IDEA requires that students with disabilities be involved in, and make progress in, the general education curriculum. This refers to the same subject matter and skills that children without disabilities are expected to learn: math, science, history, and so on. Moreover, most children with disabilities are educated in the general education classroom, alongside their peers who do not have disabilities.
To read more about IDEA’s strong preference for student placement in the regular educational environment, please visit our separate page, Considering LRE in Placement Decisions. (LRE stands for the “least restrictive environment.”)
To find strategies to improve student success in the general education curriculum and classroom, explore the following themes and links.
General Education Curriculum Web Sites
Federal Resources for Educational Excellence (Free).
Resources from the US government for various age levels and subject areas.
The Gateway to Educational Materials (GEM).
A searchable database of general education curriculum materials sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education.
The Educator’s Reference Desk.
This database of lesson plans (formerly known as the AskERIC Lesson Plans) is searchable by grade, subject area, and keyword. The lessons are mainly from the general curriculum, but many can be adapted for children with disabilities.
DiscoverySchool.com provides innovative teaching materials for teachers, and is constantly reviewed for educational relevance by practicing classroom teachers in elementary school, middle school, and high school. You can browse lesson plans either by grade or by subject. The Curriculum Center also offers activities, worksheets, puzzles, quizzes and more to help you teach science.
Sites for Teachers.
Sitesforteachers.com provides only links to sites that contain teacher’s resource and educational material. Sites are ranked by popularity.
A to Z for Teachers.
A to Z Teacher Stuff provides access to thousands of lesson plans through theme and lesson plan pages, as well as LessonPlanz.com.
Our nation’s general education law, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), stresses reading as an indispensible basic skill that opens the door for students to achieve academically across the entire general education curriculum. There is an incredible wealth of information available to help educators understand the reading process, teach children how to read, and address the difficulties that some students have with acquiring this important skill. We’ve identified only a few of these below, but they will lead you into the wealth that’s out there.
International Reading Association.
Now, here’s an expert on the subject of reading. Delve into IRA’s site to find research-based best practice, professional development modules, and much more.
Reading Rockets is a terrific source of info on all things reading, especially for students who are having trouble learning how to read.
Make sure you provide accessible instructional materials to students with print disabilities.
NIMAS is part of IDEA 2004 and requires that schools provide accessible instructional materials (textbooks, workbooks, etc.) to students with print disabilities. Sweet!
Bookshare® is free for all U.S. students with qualifying disabilities. Student memberships are currently funded by an award from the U.S. Department of Education Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP). With a Bookshare membership, your students can download accessible titles onto their computer and read them at their convenience. A variety of reading tools give students a range of options for reading the downloaded books.
Doing What Works.
Doing What Works (DWW) is a website sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education. The goal of DWW is to create an online library of resources that may help teachers, schools, districts, states and technical assistance providers implement research-based instructional practice. Literacy is just one area DWW emphasizes. We’ve given you the address of DWW’s homepage, so you can poke around and find materials of greatest interest to you.
What Works Clearinghouse Practice Guides.
WWC’s practice guides are based on research and developed by a panel of nationally recognized experts. In reading, you’ll find several of potential interest, including: (1) Assisting Students Struggling with Reading: Response to Intervention (RtI) and Multi-Tier Intervention in the Primary Grades; and (2) Improving Adolescent Literacy: Effective Classroom and Intervention Practices.
IDEA and ESEA both designate mathematics as a core academic subject. The federal government has been quite busy in recent years working to improve mathematics teaching and student performance, including:
- On March 13, 2008, the National Mathematics Advisory Panel presented Foundations for Success: The Final Report of the National Mathematics Advisory Panel to the President of the United States and the Secretary of Education.
- The U.S. Department of Education, in partnership with the Conference Board of Mathematical Sciences, hosted the first National Math Panel Forum on October 6-7, 2008.
Read all about these activities, and the fruits of them that have emerged since (including teacher materials from Doing What Works and parent materials in English and Spanish), at: http://www2.ed.gov/about/bdscomm/list/mathpanel/index.html
The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) also has much to contribute to improving both student and teacher proficiency in mathematics—among other things, its:
Principles and Standards for School Mathematics.
Other resources to access, especially with respect to teaching math to students with disabilities, include these “starter” links:
Math and dyscalculia.
Teaching Math to Students with Disabilities.
From the Council for Exceptional Children.
Federal Resources for Educational Excellence.
There are many free resources here for teaching math skills in algebra, data analysis, geometry, measurement, numbers & operations, and other math concepts.
Difficulties with math.
Effective math instruction for students with disabilities.
From NICHCY, as part of our Research Center.
Science Achievement and Initiatives
As with math, lots of hard work is going on to improve student performance in science, including the highly influential element of teacher proficiency in the subject matter. This includes the Mathematics and Science Partnership, which has flowered into MSPnet, an electronic community of those involved in improving math and science instruction and student outcomes. Here’s a quick list of resources to consult:
Here you’ll find not only the latest news in science education, but also can connect with professional development materials, the Mathematical Quality of Instruction (MQI) coding tool, modern science modules, and more.
National Science Teachers Association.
NSTA offers all sorts of information, professional development opportunities (including Institutes and Web seminars), and connections. The link below takes you to Teaching Science to Students with Learning Disabilities.
National Institutes of Health.
NIH is getting into the swing, too. It offers the NIH Curriculum Supplement Series, interactive teaching units that combine science research discoveries from NIH with state-of-the-art instructional materials. Each supplement is a teacher’s guide to two weeks of lessons on science and human health. The series is free (to science teachers and school administrators), consistent with the National Science Education Standards, targeted at grades K-12, and full of real scientific data. http://science.education.nih.gov/customers.nsf/WebPages/CSHome
Federal Resources for Educational Excellence.
We mention FREE again, because it offers a wide range of science materials to teachers and students, organized by the areas of: earth sciences, life sciences, space sciences, and physical sciences.
Additional “Content Area” Resources
Please note that the “national standards” listed below are not necessarily the same as the standards of instruction and achievement that any one State may prescribe. The national standards we’ve listed have typically been developed by the professional organization(s) associated with a subject, often in collaboration with other key organizations in the field. These may guide work in that profession, but for the purposes of IDEA and NCLB, the standards that a State establishes for teaching and learning are essential to understand. The organizations below may keep track of individual State requirements or be able to put participants in touch with the State agency who can provide the details about State content standards.
National Standards for Foreign Language Education.
American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL)
Is there a ‘disability’ for learning foreign languages?
Culturally & Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS) Early Childhood Research Institute
The CLAS Early Childhood Research Institute collects and describes early childhood/early intervention resources that have been developed across the U.S. for children with disabilities and their families and the service providers who work with them.
The Foreign Language Teacher’s Guide to Learning Disabilities
Links to sites and articles with information pertaining to teaching foreign languages to students with various disabilities. Some information is specifically on curriculum, adaptations, and activities, but most of the information is on general resources.
NCELA, the National Clearinghouse for English Language Acquisition and Language Instruction Educational Programs
NCELA provides links to state-by state policies and resources as well as compiled information on meeting the educational needs of linguistically and culturally diverse students in the U.S. Curriculum standards, information on accommodations for state-wide assessments, and state policy information available in foreign languages, are linked to if available.
Foreign Language Lesson Plans and Resources
Links to many pages of lesson plans for teaching foreign languages. The lessons are designed for regular education classes, but can be adapted for special education.
Civics and government:
National Standards for Civics and Government
Center for Civic Education
Civics or Citizenship Education Standards and Curriculum Frameworks, a report highlighting selected state standards and/or curriculum frameworks with an explicit link to civics or citizenship education.
Voluntary National Content Standards in Economics. Also the State Standards!
National Council on Economic Education (in partnership with the National Association of Economic Educators and the Foundation for Teaching Economics)
EconEdLink is a premier source of free, classroom-tested, online economic and personal finance lesson materials for K-12 teachers and their students. With thousands of lessons, videos, and interactive tools to choose from, teachers can use as many of the lessons as they would like and as often as they would like. From the National Council on Economic Education (NCEE).
The Economics Classroom: A Workshop for Grade 9-12 Teachers.
Multiple toolkits for teaching art.
Need ideas for your classroom?
Supporting Children with Disabilities in the Art Classroom
Very Special Arts.
That’s their old name. Now, they’re known as VSA, but they’re still the same pioneer in the field of arts and disability. The link below takes you to VSA’s webpage on Education Programs.
Inclusive Curricula: Art and Special Educational Needs.
The Art of Teaching the Arts: A Workshop for High School Teachers.
An 8-part professional development workshop for use by high school dance, music, theatre, and visual art teachers. (Other workshop titles addressing the teaching of the arts are available.)
Art Teaching Standards.
Art teacher toolbox.
National Standards for History.
National Center for History in the Schools
Teaching history to support diverse learners.
History and Special Educational Needs.
Federal Resources for Educational Excellence (FREE).
FREE offers a wide range of history materials to teachers and student for free, organized by the areas of: U.S. history topics, U.S. history time periods, and world studies.
How Students Learn: History in the Classroom.
National Academies Press, 2004
The Teaching American History Grant program.
This is a discretionary grant program funded under Title II-C of NCLB. The program supports competitive grants to local educational agencies, with grants used to improve the quality of history instruction by supporting professional development for teachers of American history.
The Center for Teaching History with Technology.
The Center aims to help K-12 history and social studies teachers incorporate technology effectively into their courses. The Center provides a multitude of free online resources as well as workshops and consultation services.
National Geography Standards and lesson plans.
National Council for Geographic Education
Geography and Special Educational Needs.
Would you like to visit one of the other pages in Effective Practices in the Classroom and School?
If so, here are helpful quick-jump links.
- Understanding How the Brain Learns
- Understanding Universal Design
- Connecting with the Special Education Curriculum
- Using What Works
- Addressing the General Education Curriculum (you’re already here)
- Co-Teaching: General and Special Educators Working Together